Dougie Collins hosted a house party four years ago before he and his crew headed north to Milwaukee in a bus that, well, is seemingly still rolling along.
Collins has since been asked regularly, due to the fact his day job is for Chicago Charter Express, to provide The "gAy List" bus for many local events and parties, particularly fundraisers. Many rides have themes plus on-board DJs, scantily clad dancers and more.
"They are so much fun," said Collins, who has arranged bus escapes for trips to Saugatuck, suburban gay bars and even local pub crawls. "One of my favorites is the annual Ginger-themed St. Patrick's Day Bar Crawl [in 2012]; we called it 'The Chariot of Firecrotch.'"
The rate varies, but starts at $20 per person, and the bus can accommodate about 55. "I really try to make it affordable and still be able to give back to a worthy cause; that's the appeal of The 'gAy List,'" which is BYOB, said Collins, whose bus rolls about once or twice per month, mostly during the summer.
"It's like a crazy dance bar on wheels," he said. "People constantly are suggesting repeats and offering up new ideas for The 'gAy List' bus. A lot of relationships start and end on the bus."
Collins has lived in Chicago for 12 years. He previously lived in St. Louis, "and always have been intrigued by entertaining people," he said. To that, he dabbled in theater and improv in St. Louis, and also has performed in musicals.
"I've always liked entertaining but being more on the creative side of things," he said. Such as a 2011 party he hosted that he called, Barbra-Que, a Barbra Streisand-themed 4th of July BBQ. "We relished the music and the hotdogs."
"I do like entertaining. I enjoy networking opportunities, bringing people together. I love meeting new people, making new friends." Collins said.
Collins has lived all around Chicago, including Albany Park, Bridgeport and the Gold Coast.
"Life began at 40 for me," he said. "I have never felt more content than I do today. I have never been more comfortable with myself."
For more information about The "gAy List" bus, visit its Facebook page.
Job title: Director of Sales, Chicago Charter Express
Hobbies: Softball, beach, Bikram yoga, running
Favorite local bar: Sidetrack
Nickname: Mandonna, "because I truly am a Madonna loyalist."
Little-known fact: Lives with the first gay friend he ever met, Eric-Todd Rushing, whom he calls "Mother"